MDC ALLIANCE has hit out at government for alleged double standards in the latter's recent decision to peg passport application fees in US dollars whereas workers providing the services and many more were still being remunerated in local currency.
Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube approved new passport fees should now be pegged at US$60, up from ZWL$53 while the one issued after three days now costs US$200 with the emergency one remaining at US$318.
In justifying the decision, Treasury said this would suit current rates within the production cycle of the much sought-after document as well as clear a national backlog of over 256 000.
But in a statement this week, MDC Alliance secretary for Home Affairs, Rittah Ndlovu condemned the new fees regime saying this fell far behind the eroded earnings currently being paid in local currency.
"The maladministration is compounded by the fact that most workers including teachers, doctors and other civil servants do not earn United States Dollars.
"The pegging of the fees in United States dollars constitutes an admission that the Zimbabwe Dollar has collapsed despite attempts by Treasury to contend that the local dollar is the only viable currency in the country," Ndlovu said.
The opposition official said the prohibitive fees were an infringement on citizens' rights to freedom of movement as enshrined in section 66(1)(c) of the Constitution which entitles every citizen the right to a passport and other travel documents.
He noted the fees were grossly unreasonable in light of the fees charged by other countries in the region for the same service.
In neighbouring South Africa, passport application fees are pegged at R400 US$27) for an ordinary one while Zimbabwe charges US$60 for the same document.
Ndlovu added, "A 3-day passport will now cost $200 while a 24-hour passport will cost $318 - this is more than the wage of most civil servants. No justification has been put forward by the State for these exponential increases."
He called for the alignment of workers' wages with the reality that basic state services were now being charged in United States dollars.
"Civil servants, teachers and doctors must be paid a living wage to ensure that they can afford basic identity and travel documents such as a passport.
"The continued implementation of anti-poor economic policies that rob the common person of a decent wage must end forthwith," added Ndlovu.